This CEO Makes It Possible To Get Wi-Fi Underwater

By Lee Williamson

Manu Ignatius is CEO of Subnero, a startup specialising in underwater communication. He tells Gen.T what the Internet of things will look like underwater—and the huge potential impact of the technology

Tatler Asia

Manu Ignatius is one of 20 recipients of the Gen.T X Credit Suisse Social Impact Awards. The awards recognise Gen.T honourees who have made significant contributions to Asian society in the fields of social impact, sustainability or innovation.

Manu Ignatius is causing a splash in the world of underwater communication. His company Subnero provides high-performance, wireless underwater communication, navigation, monitoring and sensing solutions to environmental, defence and oil and gas companies.

“We tend to take communication infrastructure or things like mobile phones and the internet for granted these days,” says Ignatius. “But that’s really different in the marine world.”

“At the moment, underwater communication is similar to old analogue telephone lines, where the communication links are from point A to point B. But in the future we hope to have a true internet of underwater things, where any device will be able to connect to the internet as we do on land today—without setting up customised networks.”

See also: I Am Generation T: Manu Ignatius

Customised underwater networks are essential for a number of purposes such as marine conservation, but the current high cost is a barrier for many.

Above  Manu Ignatius on his mission to democratise access to underwater communication technologies. (Videography: Jufri Husne. Editing: Rex Wong)

“Say, for example, an oil or gas company wants to come and study the health of a coral reef,” says Ignatius. “They can’t just go and deploy some sensors to get that information; instead they have to start from scratch by laying out infrastructure there for that one specific purpose. Naturally, this drives up the cost of the whole thing to prohibitive levels, meaning many people can’t do the things they’d like to do. That’s where we come in.”

For Ignatius, it’s part of a wider mission to make frontier technologies affordable and accessible to those who can get the most use out of them. “Essentially, Subnero wants to democratise [access to] such technologies,” he says. 

“In the long run, we believe our products and solutions [can] have an impact on how societies evolve.”

To see all winners of the Gen.T X Credit Suisse Social Impact Awards, visit the Social Impact Awards hub.

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